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Thrashers rally in third, edge Blues in shootout

by Brian Hunter /
Metaphorically speaking, the Atlanta Thrashers hadn't been getting the bounces on home ice, losing four straight since they won at Philips Arena on opening night.

Trailing the St. Louis Blues in the third period Sunday afternoon, the Thrashers got the luckiest bounce they could ask for, and it quickly turned the game around.

Ron Hainsey dumped the puck in from outside the blue line and it took a hop over the shoulder of Blues goalie Ty Conklin to tie the score with 3:31 remaining.

Rich Peverley and Slava Kozlov then beat Conklin in the shootout as the Thrashers claimed a 3-2 victory after they trailed by a pair of goals with just over seven minutes left in the third.

''You always hope that those bounces even out,'' said center Marty Reasoner, who assisted on both Atlanta goals. ''It's nice to catch that one break and put us in the right direction for these next home games.''

Johan Hedberg, who finished with 30 saves, stopped Andy McDonald and Brad Boyes in the shootout. He managed to poke check Boyes, who kept control of the puck and shoveled it in the net, but the play was ruled no goal because Hedberg stopped the initial chance.

Tobias Enstrom broke up Conklin's shutout bid with 7:01 remaining before Hainsey's fluke goal, which was the seventh straight goal for Atlanta scored by a defenseman.

''We needed to get pucks on net and shoot more,'' Zach Bogosian said. ''We did that in the third.''

McDonald and David Perron scored in regulation for the Blues, who also lost in a shootout in Philadelphia on Saturday. It was the first time in five games they managed more than one goal, but coach Andy Murray felt his team got greedy after building its lead.

''We didn't want to play shutdown in the third,'' Murray said. ''We wanted to play attack-oriented hockey. You don't sit on a lead. We made a mistake. They scored.''

Conklin was brilliant in making 38 saves. Just before Hainsey scored, he kept the Thrashers from tying the game on the power play by stretching across to make a great pad save on Kozlov. He also got the game to overtime and ensured the Blues a point by stopping Maxim Afinogenov on a breakaway with 2:58 to play.

All told, Conklin made 18 saves in the third. The 20 shots allowed by St. Louis were its most in a period since Jan. 23, 2006.

"It's frustrating for us. We like him. He's a great goalie, great person, and it's frustrating when we can't get a goal for him," Perron said.

Although it took some time, the Thrashers ultimately responded from a 6-3 loss to the Islanders on Saturday.

''We weren't floundering in our zone as much because we played the body a lot more and helped out when the time was right,'' coach John Anderson said. ''Forwards were collapsing in front the net, all the little things that add up. I just thought our concerted effort was much better tonight.''

After a scoreless first period, McDonald made it 1-0 with his fifth of the season at 6:55 of the second. Perron picked up his fourth on a St. Louis power play 7:08 into the third, after the team had gone 1-for-34 with the man advantage.

Material from wire services and team broadcast media was used in this report.
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